The Allure of Edgar Allan Poe

What is behind all of this fascination with Poe?

This selection of objects was chosen to represent Edgar Allan Poe’s “allure” not only as a poet, but also as a person. People love Poe’s work, but they are also fascinated with his past, his personal life, and his experiences. The preservation of artifacts from Poe’s life and death shows just how much people wanted to know both his life and his work so passionately.

The first object, a picture of his aunt, Maria Clemm, represents Poe’s past in terms of his childhood. He was an orphan at a very young age, and moved in with his aunt and cousin, whom he later married. This is not a typical past to have behind you, and the story of his life continues to fascinate his followers.

maria-clemm
Brendann Brothers, Baltimore, portrait of Maria Clemm (Poe’s Aunt), Albumen print carte-de-visite, circa 1868. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.

Next, his popular poem, The Raven, represents his fascination and depiction of deep, dark, romance—a popular genre of Poe’s work. The deep and twisted depiction of love and madness has always drawn readers in. This particular edition pictured above was published after Poe’s death, showing how people were still fascinated with his work and keeping these pieces alive after he no longer was. The fun, gothic illustration on the cover is a result of reader’s desire to interpret and translate Poe’s work.

raven illust.jpg
Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven, illustrated by W.L. Taylor. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1884. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.

Poe’s work was so widely appreciated and beautiful that people compelled themselves to put his work into song. Popular poems like Annabel Lee were translated into music. Music is cathartic for writers, musicians, and listeners allowing other people to use Poe’s work as a medium to express themselves. Poe’s work was so well liked and spoke to many types of people on a deep level.

annabel lee.jpg
John Phillip Sousa, “Annabel Lee: Song,” lyrics by Edgar Allan Poe. Philadelphia: Thomas Presser Co., 1931. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.

Next, the prose work titled Eureka—which combined science fiction with real data and fictional stories. This was very intriguing to the public and also blurred a line between fiction and reality, which deeply intrigued readers and allowed them to try to decipher the theories threaded through Poe’s mind.

eureka.jpg
Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka: A Prose Poem. New York: George P. Putnam, 1848. With Poe’s Annotations. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.

Even after Poe’s death he was widely appreciated and followed, because his allure still kept people so fascinated with the life he lived. The piece of his coffin demonstrates the fact that the public became fascinated with his death as it was extremely mysterious and there are still speculations surrounding the cause of death.

coffin.jpg
Fragment of Edgar Allan Poe’s coffin, with receipt, 1849. Retrieved when his remains were relocated in 1875. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.

The tremendous fascination with Poe only continued further, as translations and adaptations of his work came by storm, even in different languages. There were even creations separate from his literature including stamps printed with his portrait on them.

stamps.jpg
United States Post Service, first day of issue Edgar Allan Poe 42-cent stamp sheet with portrait by Michael Deas, October 7, 2009. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.       

There were even action figures and figurines created of Poe. People wanted to be able to collect items that will let Poe’s life live on long after his death. Items like these show that it is not only his work that drew people in, it was his life and his persona which captured the hearts and minds of so many. This captivating aura is what has kept his followers intrigued as well as his memory living on so strongly for all of these years– and perhaps forever.

poe figure.jpg
Accoutrements, Edgar Allan Poe action figure, 2004. From the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.

 

References

  1. “The Enigmatic Edgar A. Poe in Baltimore & Beyond: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection.” The Enigmatic Edgar A. Poe in Baltimore & Beyond: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2017. <http://exhibits.library.jhu.edu/exhibits/show/enigmatic-edgar&gt;.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s